We have a few more walls that need adornment, so we’ve been looking at new pieces of artwork again. It’s truly one of our favorite things to do.
When we opened the Guest Houses … Woodley Park Guest House in 2000 and Embassy Circle Guest House in 2007, we had a lot of empty walls. People suggested all sorts of corporate art … meaningless, repetitive, vaguely attractive “filler”. Quite frankly, that just didn’t appeal to us. We have always felt that corporate art was sort of like SPAM in your inbox. You just want to hit the “delete” button and make it go away.
So, we not only chose original works of art, but we purchased them primarily from guests who have stayed with us. It’s a great feeling! Each time we walk past a painting by Maria Consoli Ianzito, Louise Link Rath, Beto Rossi, Justina Selinger or Shoshanna Ahart, we remember these “artist friends” and the joy that knowing them has brought to our lives, as well as the beauty their paintings have brought to our rooms.
Over the next couple of posts we’ll introduce you to some of our Guest House artists, starting with Beto Rossi and Justina Selinger.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
We met Beto Rossi when he came to Washington DC in 2000 for his first U.S. solo exhibition. He stayed with us at the Woodley Park Guest House right after we purchased the property, and before we closed it down for renovation. The house was definitely NOT luxurious at that point … we referred to it as “shabby but habitable” … but Beto didn’t seem to mind. He was the epitome of graciousness.
We will never forget the night Beto’s exhibit opened. He wanted to cook Brazilian paella and make his own homemade Sangria for all of his guests … and all of ours. So, what’s an innkeeper to do? We spent the day shopping and cooking with him, went to the gallery opening, and then entertained a happy crowd of art buyers and guests at our home. It was a great evening.
Beto stayed with us a second time, and during some of his free afternoons, he made beautiful multimedia collages for us, and for all of the guests who were staying at Woodley. Is it any wonder we love this man?
Needless to say, we have purchased some incredible paintings from Beto over the years. We love his style. It is so vibrant and joyful. Very Brazilian, in fact! Right now, we’re trying to talk him into coming back to Washington DC to see our newest Beto Rossi paintings, which adorn the walls of the Embassy Circle Guest House.
Justina Selinger’s Red Barn hangs in the dining room and has become a trademark of Embassy Circle.
We met Justina Selinger through her husband Howard, who became one of our all-time favorite guests the minute he walked in the door. Howard was traveling with colleagues, and we had such fun together that he decided to come the following spring and bring Justina with him. We had lots in common with Howard and Justina, who are the original owners of The Inn at Occidental in Occidental, CA. We went to dinner together (there always seems to be food in these stories), and laughed for hours about our experiences as innkeepers.
Almost as an afterthought, at breakfast the next morning we asked Justina what she was doing now that she had retired from innkeeping. “Painting”, she replied. We asked if she had a website, which she does, and we spent the next few hours admiring her paintings and making wish lists.
We were nearing the end of the renovations here at Embassy Circle Guest House, so we brought Howard and Justina over to see the progress and all the empty walls. Howard immediately decided that we absolutely had to have Red Barn, a stunning new painting which, unfortunately, wasn’t pictured on the website. No problem! Right before we opened Embassy we hopped a flight to San Francisco and spent a couple of wonderful days with Howard and Justina, eating great food, touring Russian River, Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries, and buying paintings!
It’s become a habit!